OFI 978: What Do You Really Have To Offer?
Those of you who do not live in the Western States are probably not familiar with the photo I used as the featured image for this episode of the Off-Farm Income Podcast. That is a photo of the Les Schwab Tire Center that is located in my hometown of Kuna, Idaho, and I have them up there for a reason.
Les Schwab Tires is the epitome of a company that knows how to provide customer service. I took this photo on a Saturday afternoon when I had gone there for assistance. Earlier that day I was feeding cattle in our creek bottom on our side by side, and I ran over a small log with a broken branch sticking straight up. Somehow, I managed to puncture my tire with a piece of broken wood and take with me as I finished feeding. Thankfully, it stayed in there or I would have been instantly flat because the hole was so large.
When I finished feeding that morning I took the wheel off of the Ranger and threw it in the back of the truck. Later that day I headed into town, to Les Schwab. When I pulled into the parking lot I knew that I didn't need to walk into the lobby. Within minutes one of the technicians came running out to my pickup, asked me what the problem was and hauled the wheel into the shop. About ten minutes later he brought the wheel back out. The tire was patched and inflated, and there was no charge and no need to go into the lobby. All with a smile on his face.
As if that were not enough, Les Schwab is always the #1 supporter of 4H and FFA exhibiters at our county fair, every year. I shudder to think of what would happen to prices for fair projects if every Les Schwab store manager was not sitting in the stands, buying about 50% of the animals at our fair auction. Their support of our young people can't even hope to be matched, and that is just at our one fair. There are hundreds of county fairs all across Les Schwab's territory in which they do the same thing.
Les Schwab is the only tire store in Kuna. Yes, people here can drive into larger towns that are nearby to get tires, but if they choose to stay in Kuna they only have one choice. This doesn't matter to Les Schwab. They provide outstanding customer service regardless of a lack of competition in our town. They do this because they understand what they are really selling. Yes, they are selling tires, brakes, alignments, wheels, etc., but they are wise enough really know what their product is and to be the best at it. I will admit, I don't even shop tires anymore. For Autumm's car, my pickup, the tractor or the side by side, we go straight to Les Schwab, no questions asked.
Contrast this experience to one I had at a very large grocery chain just a few weeks ago. I had stopped into this grocery store to purchase a couple of things. This particular store has checkers and courtesy clerks, and it also has automated check out stations where you can do it all yourself.
There was nobody in line at one of the check out stations that people were working at, so I took my products to them. There was a young lady, about 20 years old ringing up the items, and a courtesy clerk about the same age standing there. They were engrossed in a conversation about some social activity they had both been involved with. Neither of them greeted me or said one word to me. The checker simply ran my items in front of the laser reader and slid them to the courtesy clerk who kind of pulled them all together in a stack on the other end of the counter. There were only about four items. Their conversation continued this entire time, as if I was not there.
I paid for the items with a credit card, and I took care of that part of the transaction completely by myself, following the instructions on the screen of the device. When the transaction was completed, one of them finally spoke to me. The courtesy clerk said, "are you going to want a bag for this?" I couldn't help it. I asked them both if they no longer greeted customers. They looked shocked,